Attraction Spotlight: GPO Museum
The oldest operating post office in the world is one of Ireland's most important buildings.
One place that history lovers visiting Dublin should put on their must-see list is the General Post Office, or the GPO, as it’s more commonly known. Many of CIE Tours' Irish vacations offer the opportunity to visit this building in the heart of the city. There is no more iconic building in Ireland - and a fascinating museum inside tells its story.
In fact, the GPO is possibly the most important building in all of Irish history. Architecturally, it is beautiful: The last major Georgian building completed in Dublin, it has handled post since its opening in 1818 and is one of the oldest post offices still operating in the world. Six columns mark the entrance, with three statues atop the columns. Two are Greek gods: Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and Fidelity, symbolizing trust. In the middle stands the mythical figure of Hibernia, symbolizing Ireland.
It’s not its architectural significance that gives the GPO its historical import, however. It’s the building’s role in Dublin’s Easter Rising – perhaps the most pivotal moment in the making of the state. Rebels seeking to liberate Ireland from British rule chose the site as their headquarters, and took over the building on Easter Monday, April 24, of 1916.
It was a natural choice for two key reasons: The imposing post office was a prominent symbol of British authority, and it was critical for communications in Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. Additionally, its central location dominating the wide street then known as Sackville Street (today known as O’Connell Street) ensured that its seizure would attract attention.
The rebellion was ultimately doomed, as were many of its leaders. But the seeds of independence had been planted. The rebellion was the pivot point that resulted in the eventual formation of the modern nation of Ireland.
Today, the GPO is still the most prominent post office in Ireland – but It’s also the home of an award-winning museum showcasing the role of the building in the birth of the Irish nation, the Rising and its aftermath, and how Ireland has developed since. The museum opened in 2016, in the centenary year of the Rising. It’s a high-tech experience that brings the events of 1916 to life through electronic touch screens, video, audio visual booths, sound and authentic artifacts.
Most of our Irish vacations offer the opportunity to visit this fascinating museum - and guests on our Irish Spirit group tour enjoy a visit there on the first day of their vacation for a tour and a welcome drink with their group.
For more information, visit www.gpowitnesshistory.ie.